Pet ownership not linked to aging biomarkers in the elderly

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Pet ownership is not linked to decreased aging in the elderly.
Pet ownership is not linked to decreased aging in the elderly.

Pet ownership has no relation to phenotypic aging in older adults, according to a study published in the BMJ.

G David Batty, PhD, of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London, and associates have been conducting an ongoing, open, prospective cohort study since 2002 to determine if pet ownership and companionship have any association with biomarkers of aging in older adults.

In the study, 8785 elderly residents of England (45% male) were monitored for physical biomarkers that might be associated with pet ownership. Group members (mean age, 67) reported whether they owned any pets. A third of the participants self-reported as pet owners with dogs (18%), cats (12%), and other (3%).

The investigators found no major characteristic differences between the 3 types of pet owners; however, they noticed that the group of pet owners as a whole were younger and likely more physically active than those without pets.

The authors adjusted multiple statistical results and did not find significant associations between phenotypic aging and owning pets. Additionally, no significant correlation was observed between pet ownership and speed of walking, function of lungs, chair rise time, strength of grip, balance, inflammation, memory, or depression.

The authors concluded that there was no major correlation between physical and psychological biomarkers and pet ownership.

“It may also be that pet ownership has an impact on health outcomes that were not included herein,” noted the researchers.

Reference

  1. Batty GD, Zaninotto P, Watt RG, Bell S. Associations of pet ownership with biomarkets of ageing: population based cohort study. BMJ. 2017 Dec 13. doi: 10.1136/bmj.j5558

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